Arsenal head into their final league game of the season this weekend knowing something has gone badly wrong as the club face their worst finish for 25 years.
Should results go in Arsenal’s favour on Sunday, then they could finish as high as eighth but that would, of course, depend on Arsenal beating Watford at the Emirates with the Hornets still fighting to stay in the Premier League.
Watford need to better Aston Villa’s result. You know, the Aston Villa Arsenal lost to just a few days ago.
As it stands, Arsenal will probably finish 10th, their worst finish to a league season since 1994/95 when we finished 12th. We last finish 10th just a few years before that, at the end of the 1992/93 season.
A lot of managers would have tried to make excuses. Arsenal were struggling before the season started with fans already disgruntled at how the season before had ended with a league collapse and Baku humiliation.
It has also been a season that saw three men take charge of Arsenal on the pitch.
Excuses are there, but they don’t stand up and Mikel Arteta knows that.
In short, Arsenal haven’t been good enough.
“We haven’t been consistent,” Arteta said. “Obviously there have been a lot of issues in the background, a lot of things that had happened, but at the end of the day we weren’t good enough to be with the top teams.
“It shows the big room for improvement and the gap that’s still there that has to be minimised really, really quickly in order to be in a good position to challenge those teams.
“It hurts so much (to say that) because when I said it’s a beautiful challenge from my side to bring the club into those positions again, I know how difficult it’s going to be.”
Simply put, Arsenal weren’t good enough and that’s why they are where they are.
Where they go from here depends on what happens over the next few months in terms of squad overhaul and player recruitment.
“I knew the challenge,” Arteta added. “To come in the middle of the season with all the issues that were happening.
“And when you are inside you can dig even deeper and start to understand why things happen. It’s the consequences of many little aspects. I am so convinced that we are going to do it right, but we need time.
“The fans, when they get nervous it’s normal. For me, it’s not that they get nervous, it’s frustration. This club and its history is there.
“People are relating this badge with success, with joy, with trophies and emotions. We can’t change that and we must not try to change it.
“Because it makes us big and we only have to think like that. For me, it’s the only way to think about this club and the future of it. If we are all in the same place on that we will make it.
“But we have to do it then transmit it to the players, to every member of the staff and then to the fans. If we do that and we are together with that mindset we will do it.
“If the situation is what it is let’s take it, let’s embrace it, but let’s do something – let’s analyse why things happen and the things that are not working have to get changed,” he continued.
“If not, we are going to get back to the same spot in six months, a year, two years.
“I am very confident with the way the owners and the board are approaching this crucial time. We know we don’t have any margin for error.”